An above-the-knee amputation (AKA) is the surgical removal of the leg above the knee.
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An AKA may be done because of problems in the foot or lower leg such as:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor may do any of the following before your procedure:
Before surgery, you will need to:
Talk to the doctor about the medications you are taking. You may need to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your surgery, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
You may be given one of the following:
An incision will be made in the skin above the knee. Next, the muscles will be divided and the blood vessels clamped. A special saw is used to cut through the bone. The muscles are then sewn and shaped. It will form a stump that will cushion the bone. Nerves are divided and placed so they do not cause pain. The skin is closed over the muscles, to complete the stump. Drains may be inserted into the stump. It will allow blood and fluids to drain from the area in the first few days after surgery. A dressing and compression stocking will be placed over the stump.
Several hours, depending on your health and the reason for the surgery.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. There will be pain and discomfort after the procedure. It can be managed with medications.
The usual length of stay is 5-14 days. It is possible that you may have to stay longer if complications arise. You may also go to a rehabilitation hospital to help you recover.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room. Your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Treatment during recovery may also include:
Physical therapy often starts within 24 hours after your surgery. Devices will help you walk.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
When you return home, you will continue with physical therapy and exercise. You will be instructed on how to care for the wound. Medications may be prescribed to manage pain.
Adjusting to an amputation may be difficult. Some may have depression. Consider talking to a therapist or psychologist.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Diabetes Association
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Diabetes Association
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Amputation. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/physical_medicine_and_rehabilitation/amputation_85,P01141. Accessed November 10, 2017.
Amputation. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-treatments/amputation. Accessed November 10, 2017.
Amputation procedure. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/cardiovascular/amputation_procedure_92,P08292. Accessed November 10, 2017.
Management of acute and critical limb ischemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at::http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T901128/Management-of-acute-and-critical-limb-ischemia. Updated September 8, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 6/12/2018